The 2006-07 Los Angeles Lakers started the season strongly, but a string of key injuries resulted in multiple losing streaks that destroyed team chemistry and morale.
By April, they were reduced to huffing and puffing just to get one of the Western Conference’s final playoff spots on the back of Kobe Bryant.
Bryant had responded by scoring at least 50 points in four consecutive games in March, but going into its penultimate game of the season, Los Angeles still hadn’t secured a playoff spot.
The Black Mamba made sure his team did just that on April 15 versus the Seattle SuperSonics.
Playing with something close to a sense of desperation, he started off the contest with 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the first quarter as the Lakers jumped out to a 29-15 lead. He then added 28 points in the second half to drag them to a 109-98 win, which allowed them to clinch a spot in the postseason.
For the game, Bryant had 50 points on an incredible 18-of-25 shooting, along with eight rebounds and three assists. It was his 10th 50-point outing of the season.
Getting the 2006 and 2007 Lakers to the playoffs despite a very anemic supporting cast around him, in a perpetually tough Western Conference, ranks as one of his more underrated career accomplishments.